Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 26:23-25

23 And he went up from thence to Beer-sheba.

24 And the Lord appeared unto him the same night, and said, I am the God of Abraham thy father: fear not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed for my servant Abraham’s sake.

25 And he builded an altar there, and called upon the name of the Lord, and pitched his tent there: and there Isaac’s servants digged a well.

Isaac had been exiled and bullied by the citizens of Gerar. First king Abimelech made him move away because he was getting too powerful, then the herdmen fought with him for control of the wells. This was a time when everything in the world was conspiring against him.

It is touching, then, that in this moment of loneliness and frustration, God appeared to Isaac and said “fear not, for I am with thee.” Isaac may have been alone in the world, but he was alone with God, and God would see that he was taken care of. God would support him when no one else would. God would multiply and increase him, in spite of all the world’s opposition.

And so, like his father before him, Isaac built an altar in the open and called upon the name of his God. He threw in with that one, best friend who would see him through thick and thin.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 25:24-28

24 And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb.

25 And the first came out red, all over like an hairy garment; and they called his name Esau.

26 And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau’s heel; and his name was called Jacob: and Isaac was threescore years old when she bare them.

27 And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents.

28 And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob.

I imagine that this detail about Jacob reaching out and taking hold of Esau’s heel was preserved to us by Rebekah. Because of what God had foretold of her twins, she would have been the most likely to perceive the significance in the younger brother grabbing hold of the other’s heel, as if to catch and surpass him.

From the very moment of their birth the two were opposites to one another, and so they continued throughout the rest of their lives. Esau became hairy and wild and beloved of his father, Jacob smooth and calm and beloved of his mother.

Esau was expected to receive Isaac’s blessing and inheritance, because that was what the culture of the time said should happen. But God had already revealed to Rebekah that the custom of firstborn sons receiving the inheritance meant very little to Him. He would not be choosing Isaac’s successor based on which son happened to be born first, but on which of the sons was worthy.

God’s choice of Jacob over Esau reminds me of another firstborn that he passed over years later, when Samuel the prophet was looking for the next king of Israel. Samuel was going to anoint Eliab, Jesse’s firstborn, but the Lord told him “I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). Then and now, what matters to God are not the random circumstances of our birth, but the intentional choices of our life.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 25:19, 21-23

19 And these are the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham begat Isaac:

21 And Isaac entreated the Lord for his wife, because she was barren: and the Lord was entreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived.

22 And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to inquire of the Lord.

23 And the Lord said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.

Isaac’s story only begins in earnest after Abraham has passed away. I have mentioned before that some people, such as Abraham, seem to have a story so expansive that it is necessary to get out from under their umbrella before one’s own narrative begins. Up until this moment the only word or action we heard from Isaac was when he walked through the field to meet Rebekah for the first time. Here, though, we learn that he, like his father, had a special relationship with God. Rebekah was unable to bear children, so Isaac spoke to the Lord for her sake, and God healed her.

That exchange sounds very simple. Evidently God was more than ready to heal Rebekah, but perhaps He waited for Isaac’s petition to start cultivating that God-Son relationship with him. Admittedly the relationship between God and Isaac is only briefly touched on in the Bible, not nearly so much as it was detailed with Abraham, his father, or as it will be with Jacob, his son.

However, we do get some special insights into God’s relationship with Rebekah. In these verses we read how she felt her twin children struggling in her womb, and went to inquire of the Lord why it was so. This already shows her quality of faith, believing that she could receive understanding for the simple matters of life. And indeed, she did. Long before the drama would play out between Esau and Jacob, Rebekah already knew from God what would happen and who would prevail over the other. Later on, when she helped Jacob to secure his father’s blessing, she was only helping him into the larger story that she already knew God intended for him.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 24:23-24, 26-27

23 And said, Whose daughter art thou? tell me, I pray thee: is there room in thy father’s house for us to lodge in?

24 And she said unto him, I am the daughter of Bethuel the son of Milcah, which she bare unto Nahor.

26 And the man bowed down his head, and worshipped the Lord.

27 And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of my master Abraham, who hath not left destitute my master of his mercy and his truth: I being in the way, the Lord led me to the house of my master’s brethren.

The servant had marveled when he first met Rebekah. She seemed such a perfect match for Isaac, and everything was going according to plan. All that remained was the matter of her heritage, and now he discovers that everything is right in that regard as well. In all this land the very first young lady he happened upon was the very one he was looking for!

So now he bows and worships. Technically he has not gained the approval of Rebekah or her parents yet, but at this point he is convinced that this path was prepared before him by God, and so he is sure of success at the end of it.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 24:15, 17-21

15 And it came to pass, before he had done speaking, that, behold, Rebekah came out, who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham’s brother, with her pitcher upon her shoulder.

17 And the servant ran to meet her, and said, Let me, I pray thee, drink a little water of thy pitcher.

18 And she said, Drink, my lord: and she hasted, and let down her pitcher upon her hand, and gave him drink.

19 And when she had done giving him drink, she said, I will draw water for thy camels also, until they have done drinking.

20 And she hasted, and emptied her pitcher into the trough, and ran again unto the well to draw water, and drew for all his camels.

21 And the man wondering at her held his peace, to wit whether the Lord had made his journey prosperous or not.

It is a wonderful little detail that Rebekah appeared on the scene before the servant had even finished his prayer. That means she had been well on her way before he voiced his request of God. God had already sent the answer before the petition came, thus the servant’s prayer wasn’t necessary to convince God to send Rebekah to him, it was necessary for the servant to be ready to receive her.

By taking the time to think through all the qualities that he was looking for in Isaac’s companion, the servant was bringing his focus into alignment with the woman that Rebekah already was. He had an image in his thoughts so clear that he wouldn’t be able to mistake her when she arrived.

We often approach our prayers like we are trying to convince God to be in harmony with us, but as we see in the example of the servant’s prayer, he was the one coming into harmony with what God had already laid out. Abraham foretold that God’s angel would prepare the way before the servant and now we see that he was right.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 22:15-18

15 And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time,

16 And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son:

17 That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;

18 And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.

One thing that stood out to me in this study was how many times God reaffirmed His promises to Abraham. This reaffirmation, though, coming after Abraham has passed the ultimate test of his obedience, is the last time. Before this moment every affirmation was only an offer from God, contingent upon Abraham’s continued faithfulness. Here, at last, the promise is made sure. There will be no more proving.

This is the goal that Peter speaks of in 2 Peter 1:10, where our calling and election are made sure. It is a long and difficult road to attain that surety, though. It is not a cheap gift, and so it cannot be earned cheaply. It is something to give one’s whole life in pursuit of.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 21:4-7

4 And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac being eight days old, as God had commanded him. 

5 And Abraham was an hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him.

6 And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me.

7 And she said, Who would have said unto Abraham, that Sarah should have given children suck? for I have born him a son in his old age.

The record once again makes abundantly clear that Abraham immediately followed all of the instructions God had given him, and circumcised his son when he was eight days old, the exact age that the Lord had specified in His commandments. By this he welcomed his son into the covenant that God had established, making Isaac ready to receive all the promised blessings.

As for Sarah, she recalled the moment when God said she would have a son in her old age and she laughed in incredulity. The Hebrew word used here for “laugh” is the exact same as the one used in that earlier passage, which means to make sport or play. Sarah was observing that all the world would be in on the joke now that the promise had been fulfilled. A joke that she was happy to have at her own expense!

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 21:1-3

1 And the Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did unto Sarah as he had spoken.

2 For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.

3 And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac.

The author of this passage wanted to make it extremely clear that God had made good on His promises. Look at the phrases “as he had said,” “as he had spoken,” and “at the time of which God had spoken.” God had come through completely, and this is an important difference between God and man: God not only keep His promises, He keeps them in every detail of how, when, and where.

Abraham and Sarah’s patience had been tested by this promise. It was years between when God first announced they would have son and the day that it actually occurred. But when God finally gave a specific timeframe for the birth to occur it happened “at the time of which God had spoken.”

Many times we might struggle to believe in God’s promises when it seems long since the time that they should have been fulfilled. Many times God gives us encouragement far in advance of the realization, and it requires great patience to see the journey through to the end. But as soon as God does give specific details of His promises, they will all be met to the letter.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 20:6

6 And God said unto him in a dream, Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her.

Obviously we should all do our utmost to preserve good and prevent evil. This verse gives an important reminder that God will be championing these same causes as well, independent of us. Things were looking like they might have gone a bad way for Abimelech, Sarah, and Abraham, but God intervened and did not let that happen.

I have had times in my own life where God has intervened to prevent me from evil, He has even saved me from my own willful foolishness. I have also had times where I wanted to help another, but had no way to do so, and God assured me that He also wanted that person to be helped, in fact He wanted it even more than I did, and He would take care of it.

So yes, we should do what every good thing that we can, but the good that we cannot do we should surrender to God, trusting that He is capable of bringing good and preventing evil all by Himself.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 20:2-6

2 And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister: and Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah.

3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man’s wife.

4 But Abimelech had not come near her: and he said, Lord, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation?

5 Said he not unto me, She is my sister? and she, even she herself said, He is my brother: in the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands have I done this.

6 And God said unto him in a dream, Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her.

God came to Abimelech with a strong sentence: “thou art but a dead man!” But when Abimelech professed innocence of any wrong God admitted that he already knew this to be the case. He was actually only warning Abimelech from destruction.

But why did God approach the matter in this way? Why start by pronouncing a punishment for a crime that Abimelech was innocent of? I can’t know for sure, but one possibility might be that God was helping Abimelech to evaluate the state of his own heart.

Being put on trial is often thought of as an unpleasant thing, but sometimes it can be a cleansing, justifying experience. By taking a close inventory of all their actions and motivations, the innocent are relieved to find that their heart really is pure, more so than they even realized. They can look anyone in the eye and honestly testify of their own worthiness. It could be that this experience was what God sought for Abimelech, even if it took a little fire to get him there.